I'm waiting for my sweetie to pick me up and I'm paying for
the privilege to use Kinko's workstations, so I figure I'd
better get some posting that's productive out of it. If only
I'd brought along my diss work.
But I can write a bit about it. I'm studying student written
responses to poems they've read. Students were asked to
interact with 5 different poems over a series of assignments.
They could mark a particular poetic device, insert thoughts
and comments into the poem's text, and write a few paragraphs
to discuss the poem in relation to a prompt. I hope to find
out a bit about what types of things students will do when
reading a poem. What do they gravitate toward?
So far, it seems that they are most comfortable identifying
rhyme (big surprise) and are fairly clueless about how to
count meter (cause there aren't that many poems that utilize
heptameter). They love the iamb and are pretty sure when
something's being personified. They tend to think about poems
as stories or narratives unfolding and rarely will critical
theory pop into the discussion. When they try to place items
historically, they tend to gravitate toward the Renaissance,
even though none of the poems they were asked to read were
remotely related to the Bard.
They are more likely to mark and tag a word or phrase than
comment on their reading intertextually. They are relatively
good at responding to prompts, although they will often go
off on their own tangents. They can see that something is
being personified (or identify some other poetic device), but
don't often incorporate that device into their assessment of
In short--they are reading, and they have some skill with
reading, but they aren't really reading the way (I think) we
want them to read a poem. Knowing about the narrative impulse
gives, I think, a place to start with instruction. But how to
get students to identify their own emotional reaction to the
poem and to use that as a springboard for connection?